The TriDot Triathlon Podcast

Training by Power, Pace, & Heart Rate

Episode Summary

Power, pace, or heart rate? Learn how to choose the best metric based on the type of session to manage your workout and achieve the desired physiological adaptation. Join TriDot coaches John Mayfield and Elizabeth James as they share how and why each of these metrics are best used for different types of training sessions.

Episode Transcription

TriDot Podcast .29:

Training by Power, Pace, & Heart Rate

Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let's improve together.

Andrew: Hey, friends, welcome to another edition of the TriDot podcast. Look, each and every time we rev up for a structured workout, we are using something to guide that workout. Depending on the sport, it could be pace, it could be heart rate, it could be something else. Or, you know, we could just be winging it, going all off feel, baby. But depending on the session, how can we know the best way to execute each workout? That's what we'll cover today on the podcast with 2 of our wise, wise go-to coaches. Our first coach joining us is pro triathlete and coach, Elizabeth James. Elizabeth came to the sport from a soccer background and quickly rose through the triathlon ranks using TriDot. From a beginner, to a top age grouper, to a professional triathlete. She is a Kona and Boston Marathon qualifier who has coached triathletes with TriDot since 2014. Elizabeth, how's it going?

Elizabeth: It is going well. I'm really excited for this episode. There are so many questions about power, pace, heart rate, when to use what. We've touched on this topic a little bit throughout some of the other discipline-specific podcasts, but I'm really glad that we're doing a full episode that's really dedicated to this.

Andrew: As am I. It's going to be a good one. Next up on is coach John Mayfield. A successful Ironman athlete himself, John leads TriDot’s athlete services ambassador and coaching programs. He has coached hundreds of athletes ranging from first timers to Kona qualifiers and professional triathletes. John has been using TriDot since 2010 and coaching with TriDot since 2012. Hey, John.

John: Hey guys. Yeah, a lot of data, a lot of metrics. So, this will be a good one. 

Andrew: And who am I? I am Andrew, the average triathlete, voice of the people, and the captain of the middle of the pack. Today on the show, we are going to warm up as always, and then talk through the nuances of training by power, pace, heart rate, and RPE. Then we'll cool down with TriDot Coach, George Cespedes. He's going to tell us about a really cool triathlon community he founded called TriAnimal Endurance. It's going to be a great show. Let's get to it. 

Narrator: Time to warm up. Let's get moving.

Andrew: Any quality training program will provide different types of workouts to work the different energy systems of the body. For the swim, bike, and run, there'll be a variety of intensities for different durations, depending on the purpose of that session. TriDot has a deep rotation of workouts, and it won't take long before an athlete using TriDot will develop favorite workouts, and probably unfavorite workouts. For today's warm up, guys, what is your absolute favorite TriDot workout? And which one makes you cringe when you see it come up on your schedule? John, we'll start with you. 

John: So, my favorite sessions are runs off the bike. There's something about just being warmed up, having the high turnover from… from the cycling, that for me, they're just… they're just good, fast, easy sessions as a rule. So, I always enjoy running off the bike, and it’s short. So, not real long session, so I always love running off the bike. I say the one that that makes me cringe is probably big gear work. 

Andrew: On the bike.

John: That's the one where you hop off and do a series of different squats. So, that one is really tough, not only in the session, but I'm always sore for days. And like standing up, sitting down, toilet, really hard, really challenging after that, after having those soreness from all those squats. So, that one's definitely a cringe. But it's also a fantastic strength building, power building workout.

Andrew: Try to… try to mitigate your bathroom visits for a day or two after that.

John: Yeah, you kind of have to just like fall onto the toilet. 

Andrew: What's funny is like, you know, we joke about that, but we all know exactly what you mean when you say that because all of us have been there.

John: I'm glad.

Andrew: Yeah. Elizabeth, what about you? What is your favorite and least favorite TriDot workouts?

Elizabeth: My favorites are going to be those long stamina rides with the intervals. So, you know, long ride with like 2 x 15 at zone 4, and then like the 7 x 10 at zone 3. I love the longer workouts. I really enjoy those numerous sets of zone 3 extended intervals at the end. Gosh, like… like John, I… my initial thought for the one that makes me cringe was also the big gear work. So, as he was stealing my answer there, I was trying to come up with what else kind of makes me cringe or what gives me the most challenge. So, I'd say another one for me is the threshold 200-300 swim workout. That… that one always gets me. I seem to get through the first round of the 200-300 okay, but I almost always seem to struggle with that short rest between the 200s and that second round. And by the time on to that next 300 set, I'm just gasping for air at the wall. 

Andrew: Well, it's good to hear that you are too, because I'm also gasping at the wall on those. So, at least I know I’m in good company.

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s a challenging set. 

Andrew: Yeah. No, it really is. I… I'm kind of like John. I really enjoy the run off the bike, especially after a bike ride. I'm definitely a stronger runner than cyclist. And so, I mean, that's… that's my favorite part of any race honestly, is getting off the bike, you know, getting through transition. And that… those first couple minutes on the run course, I just feel so freed by being off the bike and… and back to the discipline I enjoy the most. So, it's the workout version of that. 

But just to be different, I’ll also say I really enjoy the run workouts that have you in zone 4. There’s… there's a variety of them, right? But… but in any run workout on TriDot where you're… you're in zone… like, honestly, tomorrow, tomorrow's a day where I have a run workout. It's an hour, an hour and 10 minutes, or something like that. And it's 4 x 6 minutes at threshold. And I have, I think, 2 or 3 minutes in between to kind of catch my breath. So, as soon as you go less than 2 minutes to catch your breath, those run sessions where you're in zone 4 and you only have a minute in between, that's when I stopped enjoying it. 

But just so long as I have 2, 3, 4 minutes in between the zone 4 intervals, I really like just kind of working that speed, staying at threshold and really spinning my legs. I usually get pretty good TrainX scores on those, which feels good. And, you know, I usually do this at the track. I know a lot of people hate the track. I love the track. I don't know, I like the monotony. I like the consistency. I like not dealing with elevation and just going around and round and round. I don't know, it's… there's soothing and comforting for me. So, I really like there's tracks sessions on… on… on… on run days.

The ones I dislike. The one that I'll give a quick shout out to is 30/30s. I've said this on… on the group before, 30/90s are much easier, just because you have the recovery time. Even though you're pushing more watts, you have more time to kind of recover from it. But 30/30s, 30 seconds for me after the first couple rounds just gets to not be enough and my legs just grind down. I have little skinny runner’s legs. I do not have strong cyclist legs. I need to work on that with some strength training probably. But those 30/30s really, really kill me. 

The other one I'll say, since I'm kind of on the tail end of an Ironman training block that didn't happen with Ironman Texas being postponed, going through that for the first time, I never minded the bike stamina sessions until they started ramping up to over 3 and a half hours. And I just don't enjoy riding a bike for over 3 and a half hours. I just don't. That's kind of my tap out point. I really like being on the bike until the 3-hour, 3 and a half-hour mark. And so, when those Ironman prep workouts got to be 4 hours, long 4 and a half hours long, I… I… that's the point I stopped enjoying it. And I know, Elizabeth, that’s the point you enjoy the most. 

Elizabeth: Yes, yeah.

Andrew: And, for me, that's when it's… it's just no fun anymore to be on a bike spinning my legs. So, I got to give that. I will say this, just while we're talking about TriDot workouts as kind of a quick aside before we move into the main set, but one of our athletes kind of made a joke about MAV Shuttles the other day and how much they enjoy MAV Shuttles. And… and I think some athletes hate them because you're just at a full out sprint for 20 seconds. I… I… I like them. I don’t love them, I like them. But my cousin is a ultra-runner. There's a lot of trail running, and he wants to start working on his speed. Because he's used to running, you know, 40, 50, 60, 70-mile weeks at a time training for his use crazy 100-mile races. But… but he texts me, he's like, “Hey, I want to go to the track and do some speed work with you. I haven't done that in forever, dah, dah, dah.” So, he actually joined me for a track work out. And the first one he came to, I had MAV Shuttles. So, that was a heck of a… heck of a way to break him into some speed work. 

But when I was typing on the Facebook group a joke about that, when one of our athletes posted about MAV Shuttles, I don't… I don't… you know, the U and the I on a keyboard are side by side and I must have missed the U and I just happen to hit the I. And so, I typed MAV Shittles is what it comes out as. And thankfully, I caught it before I hit Enter. But I almost made a joke on the TriDot page about the MAV Shittles I had done that day.

John: As they will now forever be known. 

Narrator: On to the main sets. Going in 3, 2, 1. 

Andrew: Today, our main set is brought to you by TriBike Transport. If you are traveling for an upcoming race, let TriBike Transport ensure that your bike gets there race-ready and stress-free. TriBike Transport is the original, fully assembled bike transport service for cyclists and triathletes. I love traveling for a race, and after registering, the first thing I do is book TriBike Transport for my bike. You start by using the easy online reservation form to guarantee space for your bike. Then about one week out from the race, you will drop off your bike fully assembled at one of their conveniently located partner shops. Your bike will enjoy a smooth ride all the way to the race site where you will pick it up near T1, ready to race with your bike fit position untouched. Thousands of athletes have trusted their gear to TriBike Transport and you can too. Learn how by heading to tribiketransport.com, and as a friend of the podcast, use coupon code ‘TriDot pod’ for $25 off your next booking. 

With pace power, heart rate, and RPE all on the table as metrics we can use to get our workouts, how are we supposed to know which to leverage in each session across all three sports? It's no secret that here at TriDot, we are all about the data. So, as athletes, understanding the data points and metrics that matter most to a session can go a long way to helping us execute our training. So, today, John and Elizabeth are here to talk us through when and how to use each training metric to guide our workouts. 

So, guys, let's… let's start here today. Let's start with kind of talking through why we even train by zones in the first place. Before we get into what metrics to follow in each session, let's talk about kind of these different training intensities. Before each workout, TriDot shows me how much time I'm supposed to spend in each zone. So, for my, for example, MAV Shuttles, it'll tell me my MAV Shuttles, those 20-second busts should be run at such and such pace. And no matter what your workout is, it's going to tell you what intensity it is you should be following. And then it shows me what intervals are supposed to do to achieve that. Now, these intensities are grouped by either pace or heart rate or power. So, John, tell me how does TriDot determine what these intensities should be for each person? Because they're different, right?

John: Yeah. So, training is governed by each athlete’s training-stress profile. The training-stress profile determines each athlete’s appropriate amount of each type of training stress, and then balances that across each session each week in each mesocycle. So, every session that is prescribed is… is done so to achieve a very specific training adaptation, to achieve a very specific amount of training stress that is going to produce these… these results. 

So, these intensities are prescribed specific to each individual, so that that very specific intensity, that very specific training stress can be achieved. So, once these intensities are prescribed, they're then normalized for the conditions that the… the session is going to be completed in. So, that's… that’s how and why these intensities can change based on those environmental conditions. What we want to do is… is have very specific training, and we want to have a very specific session executed with very specific metrics, so that we are intentional in what we're doing. So, we're not just going out doing random training, we're doing very specific training with very specific purposes in mind. 

Andrew: Yeah. I know, that made a huge difference for me when I first came on to TriDot as an athlete. But because before that, you know, if you're not paying attention (and we've talked about this in the podcast before), you know, you're most likely to just go out and kind of hang out in zone 3, where you're not really necessarily doing anything super productive, and you're not really you know, intentionally working on either your speed, your thresholds or your endurance zone 2 stuff. And before I came on, TriDot, that's… that's where I was. I would go out, I would do every workout at a intensity that felt like I was working. But it was never quite enough to… to hurt, right? 

John: Yeah. So, that's zone 3 is kind of known as the black hole of training. And really, what it is, is kind of a natural landing place, because it's… it's kind of fun to go to go fast and go a little bit hard. So, that's why we go harder than… than easier zone 2. But nobody really likes to spend a whole lot of time kind of in that… that painful zone 4 area where we're… we’re producing those specific adaptations at those higher intensities. So, that's why so many athletes just kind of like to hang out at that zone 3, because it's… it’s fast enough to be fun, but it's not so hard that it really hurts. But the adaptations that happen in there, it's really… it's… it's not hard enough to produce the intensity or the adaptations that come at the higher intensity. And it's… it's too intense, too hard to have those active recovery and the other adaptations of… of the slow. So, that's why it's kind of that black hole is that it's really… there's a certain amount of time that… that athletes need to train in that zone, but it's… it’s probably the… the least that we want to spend… spend that time in this. The time spent in zone 3 needs to be very measured, very specific. And chances are, we were better off spending time in either zone 2 or zone 4 on 5.

Andrew: So, for each athlete, obviously these zones are different, based on your ability, based on, you know, biometric data. How are these zones determined for each person? How does TriDot know that for 31-year-old Andrew Harley who weighs this much and has spent this amount of time in the sport, this should be my heart rate in… for zone 2, zone 3, zone 4, etc.? How is that determined for each individual? 

Elizabeth: Yeah. So, kind of like you said, Andrew, you know, the information about the athlete is taken into consideration, and then these intensities are personalized based on an athlete assessment data. So, the assessments are going to determine an athlete's functional threshold. And then the zones that are prescribed are determined by a specific percentage of the athlete’s threshold. 

And here's where we need to be a little bit careful, because different platforms will have a varying number of zones and different calculations of how these zones have been determined. And for all the reasons that John mentioned in the first question that we went through and what he discussed, it's so important that athletes follow their TriDot zones, because the training is very specific to get that desired training effect. So, from the assessments that they're doing, we're able to prescribe those specific and personalized zones for them, that is going to really get the desired training effects from those sessions when they are prescribed.

Andrew: Alright. So, now that we've kind of laid that groundwork, you know, we all kind of have an understanding of how our zones are calculated, we know our zones are different, we know they're there for a reason, let's kind of go through each of the sports and talk through, you know, which… which metrics we should be using to guide our workouts. And because it's a little different from sport, to sport, and even workout to workout, and we want to make sure as athletes that… that we're getting these rights.

So, I'm going to go kind of reverse triathlon here and start by talking about the run. Because I think this is where we get most of our athlete questions. And the big one I see you guys answering all the time is, “When are we supposed to run by heart rate and when are we supposed to run by pace?”

John: So, anything… a session that is all at zone 2 or easy intensity, that should be executed based on heart rate. If the session includes anything, any amount of time higher than zone 2 or that easy pace, then that session should be executed by… by pace. So, the reason for that is, is as I mentioned earlier, there's… there's different training adaptations that happen at these different intensities. So, for these easy sessions, the zone 2 runs. These are active recovery sessions. So, they may be in between harder sets, or they may be intended to increase an athlete's aerobic efficiency. So, these adaptations only occur at this lower heart rate or they… they occur more quickly, more efficiently at the lower heart rate. So, that's why it's important to maintain the zone 2 heart rate, as opposed to the following pace. So, even if you're following pace, but if your heart rate is… is escalating, then you're no longer achieving that desired effect of that session. 

So, aerobic efficiency is something that often takes time to develop. It's something that, kind of as we mentioned before, for these athletes that may be new to structured training or they've not done a whole lot of specific aerobic efficiency training, they… they're not going to have this adaptation. And this is probably something that that happens a little slower than a lot of other adaptations that we have. So, it's something that athletes need to be patient with, but it's something that's really going to pay off in training and racing. 

So, basically, what we're doing by maintaining this low heart rate is teaching the… the cardiac system to be efficient in the way that it circulates blood. So, in time, when we train the… the cardiac system to be efficient, what we'll see is that the… the athlete now is able to maintain those… those paces at that lower heart rate. So, initially, they may have a difficult time maintaining their easy run pace at that zone 2 heart rate. In time as the… as the heart and the circulatory system and all that becomes efficient, they will now be able to maintain those faster paces at that lower heart rate. And not just the low… low heart rates and slower paces, but the faster paces as well. 

So, the benefit here is being able to increase the output at the same or lower input. So, it's… it's bigger bang for the buck. So, it's being able to get more out of the body, more performance with less input, less energy, less taxation on the body. 

Andrew: And that adaptation only happens when you're running in zone 2. You can't… you can't run in zone 3 and 4 all the time and have your body get more efficient at… at circulating blood. 

John: It will, but not at the same rate and not in the same way…

Andrew: Okay.

John: … as zone 2. So, that's… that's the intent, that's the purpose of that. Yes, there… there is some of that. There… there certainly is crossover. It’s not 100% exclusive to that, but the best way, the most efficient way to… to produce that is by maintaining that low heart rate. And unfortunately, sometimes it takes several months to do. 

 

Full disclosure, it's something that I probably put off focusing on longer than I should have. A couple years ago, I really nailed down and said, I'm going to do this, and it took probably 2 or 3 months to… to really get to where I could get back to that same easy pace at that… that heart rate and maintain that low zone 2 heart rate. And now, it's, you know, something I've been able to do for several years, because I made that a priority. I buckled down and did it. And, yeah, I mean, we all like to run faster. You know, we don't necessarily enjoy those slower paces.

Andrew: Yeah.

John: We want that natural pace, oftentimes that we just go and just go out for a run and we land in our natural pace. But sometimes, it's swallowing a little bit of ego and…

Andrew: Absolutely.

John: … running a little bit slower than we could. And that's one of those scenarios where it's a… a could… or should pace instead of a could pace. And it's… again, it's for having that… that specific training, we're doing training so that we can perform on race day. And these are those kind of almost sacrifices that we have to make. And maybe it's not running with your buddy that… that runs that pace that's a minute faster than what you should be running. 

Andrew: Yeah.

John: You know, and may require running by yourself.

Andrew: And I know the wea… the weather kind of impacts it too. Because I know, for me, I have no problem keeping my zone 2 pace, while in zone 2 heart rate, when it's, when it's chilly outside or comfortable outside. But as soon as it gets hot, I have to, like you said kind of swallow my ego and say, “Okay, it is zone 2 run. When it hits Strava is… is not going to be as quick as my normal zone 2 runs because it's 850 outside. And my heart rate’s spiking a little bit. It's not staying in zone 2 quite as easily.” And… and, you know, but you have to recognize that it's… it's… it's… it's not a negative thing to… to… your body's just being honest with you…

John: Right.

Andrew: … saying, “Hey, based on the conditions of the day, this is how I'm feeling.”

John: And your paces are going to be adjusted for those environmental conditions. Your body is already adjusting. So… and that's exactly the scenario that you described. As it's… as it gets warmer, more humid, if you're at a high elevation, the body is naturally going to adjust the heart rate. So, what we're doing with this environment normalization to these paces is… is matching, to a certain extent, that same adaptation that the body is already doing. So, that we are… again, we're going and we're performing these… these sessions with a very specific purpose in mind. And if we don't take into account those variables that… that affect the way the body responds to training, then… then the training is not going to achieve that very specific purpose. It’s going to be different. And that's where we get into those random trainings. Random training produces random results. Specific training produces specific results. And that's what we're… we’re looking to do here. 

Andrew: Yeah. So, just… just to tie a nice tidy bow around our run training. So… so, athletes should be completing any… any session with intervals, so in 3, 4, 5 you know, whatever. Any… any session with intervals, we should be paying attention to pace. And so, that's your MAV Shuttles, that’s your threshold repeats, that’s your Fartleks. What about these run off the bikes that we talked about? Because sometimes, those run off the bikes, for me, are all zone 2, and sometimes, it has me do half of it in zone 2 and then half of it in zone 3. What do we do in that scenario?

John: Same rule applies. If it's that scenario where it's all zone 2, then… then follow heart rate. If it has out at one pace and back in another, then we're going to use pace to execute that session. And the reason for… for using pace is the… the heart rate is a delayed response that's… I think we understand that as we start a run, we're going to start at a low heart rate. And depending on our fitness and conditions and all those things, it's going to take a certain amount of time for your heart rate to match the intensity that you're holding. So, it's a delayed response to that activity. So, that in and of itself makes it more difficult to… to gauge. So, especially on like the MAV Shuttles that are very short.

Andrew: 20-second bursts.

John: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah.

John: Your heart rate is not going to match your intensity in 20 seconds. Just like your recovery. If you have that short recovery period, that heart is not going to drop. And that's going to vary for every athlete how quickly the heart rate rises, how quickly the heart rate drops. That all has… there's… there's many, many variables involved with that. Whereas pace is much more quick to... to respond and quick to update. So, it's going to provide a quicker, more accurate metric to follow to gauge that intensity level.

Andrew: The last kind of different scenario I wanted to ask about, because I came… I've had this conversation with you guys as coaches several times and I've kind of gotten clarity. But even still entering my… my… kind of the buildup in the stamina work for my Ironman, you know, when you hit those long stamina sessions, and it's what… whether it's a half Ironman or full Ironman, you know, you're doing those hour and a half, 2 hour, you know, 2 and a half hour long runs where the whole first half is zone 2. And then the whole second half, it'll tell you, “Oh, do… do 2 intervals… 2 6-minute intervals at threshold or 2 10-minute intervals at marathon pace.” And so, then the back half of the session will give you a little bit of pace. So, with that being a stamina work, do we pay attention to heart rate the whole time until those… those… because if it's a 2 and half hour run and only 60 minutes of it is at any sort of intensity, that… that's when I started kind of like, “Oh, well, which one do I pay attention to? What about that scenario?”

John: So, the purpose of that session is stamina. That's a stamina-building session. 

Andrew: Yeah.

John: So, not necessarily… absolutely not an active-recovery session, and not even an aerobic-efficiency session. The purpose of that session is, is building stamina. Now, you certainly can have that adaptation of the aerobic efficiency. It's great to do what you can to maintain that low heart rate, especially through… through the first portion of that to get into the higher intensity. So, it's not a bad idea to… to maintain that lower heart rate, especially through the beginning. It’s going to be much more difficult after that high intensity set.

Andrew: Yeah.

John: There's a lot of physiology and a lot of reasons why it's going to be more difficult afterwards. So, you're going to go and you'll… you'll do those higher intensity sets. And then, again, yeah, it's going to be real difficult to maintain or get back to that zone 2 heart rate. So, that's… that's what we expect. It's not impossible. Different athletes, again, are going to have a different ability to get back to that zone 2 heart rate, kind of depending on fitness and different things. But…

Andrew: But the point of that session is to build stamina at that pace.

John: Right.

Andrew: And so, we want to go by pace. Okay. So, bike training is probably the sport that has the most gizmos and gadgets. And there's a lot of different data points that we're collecting during our bike sessions. What metrics, Elizabeth, should we use to guide our cycling?

Elizabeth: So, yes, for our bike training, there's a couple different metrics to really help guide these sessions. So, we have wattage, we have cadence, we have heart rate. Our zone 2 bike sessions should follow heart rate for… for all of the same reasons that those zone 2 runs should. I mean, John did a fantastic job of explaining, you know…

Andrew: Yes, he did. Thank you, John.

Elizabeth: Yeah, he really did, you know?

Andrew: A gentleman and a scholar.

Elizabeth: You know, all the… all the adaptations that are happening there for zone 2 and really keeping to the purpose of those sessions to help develop that aerobic efficiency. And in the same way, we want to do that for those zone 2 sessions on the bike. Now, kind of unlike the run, there is kind of a better oftentimes, correlation between wattage and heart rate on the bike. Cycling is kind of less taxing from a physiological standpoint than a run is going to be. So, oftentimes, athletes will see that their zone 2 wattage and their zone 2 heart rate is going to be a little bit closer matched than maybe their zone 2 heart rate and their pace on the run.

Andrew: Particularly as they’re training indoors. You know, a lot of folks are Zwifting, a lot of folks are on the indoor trainers and you're in a really controllable environment even. Not only are you off your feet, but you're in a… in a, you know, controlled environment. So, yeah, that that makes a lot of sense. 

Elizabeth: Yes, yeah, absolutely. And so, I mean, very, very similar to the run that, you know, zone 2 bike sessions, we really do want to still pay attention to heart rate. And then for anything that's above zone 2, wattage is going to be kind of our driving factor there, just like pace would be for the run. Because you are looking for kind of those increases in functional threshold or you're looking to gain and build some stamina as you near or get more near a race event. 

Andrew: So, in this session notes, TriDot will often prescribe what cadence we should ride at during certain intervals in our bike workouts. What is usually the purpose for these specific cadences?

John: So, cadence is a key cycling skill. Each cyclist will have somewhat of a default cadence, it’s just almost like I described earlier, just kind of a default run pace. It’s going to be a cadence that they just naturally spin at. But it's important for each athlete to develop … the ability to have a cadence outside of just kind of that natural go-to. In… in a race or in different scenarios, the athlete is going to need to be able to maintain different cadences, higher cadences, lower cadences. It may be wind, it may be terrain, different… riding in a group. There's… there's a lot of different scenarios for an athlete needs to be able to vary their… their cadence. So… so, that's one of the intents of… of prescribing these certain cadences.

Andrew: So, they can be more of a skill set as opposed to a training metric?

John: But it also is a training metric.

Andrew: Okay.

John: … in… in that sometimes, if you have a lower cadence, the… typically, the lower the cadence, the more the athlete is going to be relying on their legs to generate that… that power. The higher the cadence, there's somewhat more of a reliance on the cardiovascular system. So, what you'll see typically is… is you could drop your cadence way low down to like 60 and you're going to really feel that in your legs. But typically, what you're going to see is a drop in the heart rate. Kind of the opposite end the spectrum there, you're going to spin it up to 100 RPM. The legs are going to feel fine, they're not going to be working particularly hard at all, they're not going to be pushing on the pedals. But you're going to see an increase in the heart rate. Because the cardiovascular system is now working to spin your feet that quickly. 

So, really, what it's important to do is kind of find that crossover point. And it's a little different for each athlete. For most, it's somewhere, give or take, that 80 to 90 range. But where can you generate the highest amount of power for the lowest heart rate, kind of a… kind of a scenario there. So, that's what you're looking to do. Kind of like I mentioned earlier with that car… the cardiac efficiency is, where is your… your highest power at your lowest heart rate? And cadence is one of the metrics that we can play with to see, and it'll be different. So, where… where is your highest power, lowest heart rate crossover at… at a particular cadence?

And that's… that's something that's pretty easy to do in a given session. I would say do a minute or 2 at a time and started an 80 cadence for a particular power, particular wattage. What is the heart rate at an 80 cadence? And then take it up to 90. What is it there? Give it 2 minutes to kind of let that heart rate settle in, and just kind of play with it that way. Do the same thing with the higher intensity stuff. So, your zone 4…

Andrew: Kind of find out where you're… you’re the most efficient with your heart rate. 

John: Right, yeah. Where do you produce the… the most amount of power for the least amount of heart rate?

Andrew: Is there any kind of value… and I know you referenced the big gear workout earlier on the… on the… in the warm up. And I know there's certain workouts that have us intentionally it'll say, “Hey, stay at 70, you know, 65, 70 RPMs when you're in zone 4 and 5.” Is there any sort of strength building that happens when we do that versus spinning at 90 in that same zone 4 or 5? 
John: Absolutely.

Andrew: Okay.

John: And that's, that's also part of the intent is to build that… that muscular strength. You'll… like I said, when you get down, the lower the cadence, the more you're going feel the burn. Especially in the big muscles, you'll feel it in the quads, you'll feel it in the hamstrings. And then more so on the opposite end of the spectrum, as we maintain those higher cadences, oftentimes, that's going to teach neural pathways. So… and even in the beginning, your warm up that has spin up, so we're looking to have cadence over 100. Oftentimes, it's not a muscular inability to do that. If you… if you struggle to get to that 110, 115, 120 cadence, it's not so much a muscular inability, it's a neural pathway. So, as we do that session after session, you're really teaching… teaching the body. The brain is learning how to… to do that.

Andrew: To just fire that quickly.

John: Right. So, it's muscular recruitment, neural recruitment. And we're working the full spectrum here of everything, from working those big muscles to work in little bitty neural pathways to become more efficient, better cyclists. 

Andrew: So, in a workout that… that gives no recommendation on what cadence to ride at (because they don't all do so), should people just do what is natural to them? Is that the workouts where they should kind of play with observing their own heart rate?

John: Yeah. And again, like I said, you're… you’re going to find your cadence relatively quickly. It's… it's something that is… I wouldn't say it's even static over the years. My… my cadence has… has fluctuated. I kind of ride at different cadences in different times. And, you know, has to do with… with kind of what… what am I doing? Is this… is this a 5-hour endurance session? Or is this a 20-minute sprint race where I'm… I’m maximizing everything I've got? You know, that's… that's going to determine your cadence as well.

And then where that really comes back to is… is which… are you looking to… what's going to fuel? You know, again, is it… is the big muscles or is it your cardiovascular system? Because if you're in a… if you're on the bike for 5 or 6 hours in your Ironman, you can't really tax your cardiovascular system because you've got to go run a marathon, and you're going to need to save some of that. So, you may have a lower cadence when you're riding a 5 or 6-hour bike split. Whereas, if you're in a sprint race and your… your bike split may only be 20 or 30 minutes, and you're at threshold for the whole time, you can have a higher cadence that's going to have a higher heart rate associated with it. But now, you're going to save the legs for that… that sprint run. So, you can run that… that 5K at a faster pace and save your legs as far as that goes. 

So, there are a lot of things that go into it. But again, it's kind of specific to each individual. What is your background? What is your… your race distance? And there's a lot that goes into it. But as… to answer your question, you know, there… there are those opportunities to kind of play around with it and find what is the right cadence for you? What… what feels good? What are you able to do? What allows you to run strong off the bike and maintain a good heart rate throughout?

Andrew: Yeah. And then this is where, you know, when we ask these kind of questions, and we kind of get in these kinds of topics, and we find ourselves saying there's a lot that goes into it, that probably means we should do a whole separate podcast on, you know, bike cadence and, you know, when… depending on… like you're talking about when you're talking… when you're training for this race or that race, what should it be at? There's a lot of different things we could talk about it, and you've covered it perfectly for the sake of what should we pay attention to in our training sessions? Which is the goal today.

John: I was just thinking, I've never talked about cadence for so long.

Andrew: You know, but… but we could probably go longer, right? So, maybe one of these days, we'll… we'll circle back on that so… 

John: Maybe so.

Andrew: … people know… know that we know there's more to talk about there. But, John, I think you nailed it for the… for the sake of helping us train correctly and doing the right training right on our bike sessions. So… but let's talk about this. Bike training is going to really differ from person to person based on the accessories an athlete has. You know, we've talked about heart rate on the bike, we talked about wattage on the bike, we've talked about cadence on the bike. And not every athlete has all the toys necessary to measure all 3 of those. Some people have the heart rate strap and not the power meter. Some people have the cadence sensor and heart rate strap, but not the power meter. Some people have all of it. So, Elizabeth to talk to me about what considerations an athlete needs to make if they haven't been able to invest in all the bike tech to measure all of these things.

Elizabeth: Certainly. So, I guess, first, just maybe a little reassurance that as I was starting, I definitely did not have all of the gadgets and gizmos that I do now.

Andrew: Took me some time to…

Elizabeth: Oh yeah.

Andrew: … slowly year by year, you know, kind of… kind of save up for this…

Elizabeth: Exactly…

Andrew: … save up for that. Yeah, absolutely.

Elizabeth: Add the different metrics as I went. Goodness, when I started, you know, I had a bike. That was it. And… and you really don't need to spend a lot of money. But investing in some way to measure your training is going to provide you some important feedback. Usually, what I will suggest is that athletes at least purchase a heart rate monitor to get themselves started. It's certainly a lower piece of tech, but it still is going to provide some very important feedback about how the body is responding to each training session. So, I'd say, you know, if they… if they don't have any tech, considering a heart rate monitor would be a great first step.

Andrew: Yeah. If you can't afford a heart rate monitor, you've chosen the wrong sport. Just… just to be honest. If you can't even, you know, take a month or 2 and save up for… for an entry-level heart rate monitor, absolutely. So, that's… that's some… some great wisdom there, Elizabeth. So, while we're talking about heart rate, I've seen some athletes ask about when they're training heart… by heart rate on the bike, some athletes have a hard time spending enough time in zones 3, 4, 5 because they… they just can't get their heart rate up that high during either… sometimes it's a short heart interval, you know, those 30/30s, those 30/90s, they just don't have enough time at that power to get the heart rate into that… that zone. Or some folks can't even get their heart rate up high enough at all. You know, they… their legs just don't have the power yet to… to put up the amount of watts it takes long enough to get the heart rate up there, which… which is… I’m certainly borderline that case myself depending on… on the wattage. My legs will give up before my cardiovascular system does. So, a lot of people struggle with that. So, talk to me about the best way to execute bike sessions if heart rate is your go-to metric when you ride.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So, kind of like you point to in your question here, some intervals on the bike may be so short that the heart rate is not going to reach those upper zones. Unlike wattage, which is going to provide athletes with a real time metric, there's a lag in heart rate. And so, athletes training with heart rate for the bike are going to need to have an understanding of this so that they don't reach a frustration point when their heart rate does not get that high during the short intervals. We definitely don't want them to lose the purpose of the session trying to make it happen. So, you know, for example on those… on those 30/30s, you know, if you are going all out for 30 seconds, your heart rate may not reach, you know, zone 4, zone 5 in…

Andrew: In 30 seconds.

Elizabeth: … those 30 seconds. But we don't an athlete working so hard, you know, for 2 minutes so that their heart rate is at zone 5 for 30-seconds. 

Andrew: We would rather then take a lower TrainX score and do the session right…

Elizabeth: Mm hmm.

Andrew: … than try to fill those buckets of time at certain… certain heart rates. 

Elizabeth: Yes, yeah, absolutely. Because then, at that point, they really are kind of altering what the purpose of that prescribed session was by working for a more extended period of time, kind of chasing that metric that is not a real-time metric. So, as… as we kind of started this podcast with training is a prescribed amount of time at a prescribed amount of intensity. And then the metrics that we've been talking about here, you know, power, heart rate, those are just tools that we're using to measure the intensity and kind of how… how we're doing with that training session. 

Andrew: Okay, yeah, that… that's… that's super helpful. So, if I'm in a bike session, and it's all zone 2, obviously I'm just going by hear rate anyway, you know, so I don't need the power meter. But if I'm in a bike session that has some intervals and I'm just training by heart rate, I don't have the power meter, a lot of people are in that boat, know that… that you're really doing the best you can. And if you don't get the 100-unicorn TrainX score because, you know, you couldn't fulfill the heart rate metrics, that's… that's okay. So, that's… that's super helpful clarification there for a lot of people that put them at ease. I know… I know it's hard to lay down those…

Elizabeth: Yes.

Andrew: … good scores and you want to… you want to feel that affirmation. But that's… that's good to hear from, Coach Elizabeth. So… so, but tell me this, because there's certainly some new folks in the sport, some budget folks in the sport, some folks that just don't like the gizmos and gadgets and are just kind of old school. And so, maybe they don't have, for whatever reason, the watch, the power meter, the heart rate monitor, and they just like to… maybe they just like to run and bike unattached and just be free. RPE, which is rate of perceived exertion, rate of perceived effort, so it's really just the… how you… how hard you feel like it's going, literally just based off a feeling, is RPE a sufficient way to train?

John: So, it can be a sufficient way to train, but there are certainly limitations to it. As… as we've kind of mentioned, we have power and pace, which are going to be our most objective, our quickest feedback. And then we have heart rate, which as we've mentioned has some limitations as far as the instantaneous effect of that. Also, there are a lot of things that can influence heart rate that can make it a little less reliable as a metric. So, we're kind of working our way down the scale here to where RPE is… is one of the lower of metrics that we can use. And partially because it's so subjective. What is easy? What is hard? That's going to mean something different to everyone. So, if I if I tell an athlete, “Go run at a hard pace,” for some athletes, they're going to go really, really hard and work more hard, more… that's not a word.

Andrew: More hard, they worked harder.

John: They're going to work harder.

Andrew: Harder, faster, stronger. 

John: And again, as we mentioned at the top, we have very specific purposes for every session that we do. And the better we adhere to those specific purposes, the more predictable and the better results are going to be. So, the better we can quantify our intensity level, our effort level, the better off we are. So, same thing on the opposite end of the spectrum. If it's an easy day, what does easy mean? some athletes are going to go too easy. Some athletes are going to go too hard because they're going to push into that… that black hole, that zone 3 where they're going too hard to… to really have that active recovery. So, they may feel like they're going easy, but in reality, the body is still working in such a way that it's not able to recover. In fact, we're doing additional damage, additional training stress…

Andrew: Yeah.

John: … that is creating an additional recovery demand. So, those are some of the limitations of RPE.

Andrew: So, you can still train, you can still be a triathlete, you can still even use TriDot and… and probably not get the… the great scores, but you can… you can still, for the most part, fulfill the purpose of that session, just your accuracy, and doing so is probably going to go down. 

John: Right. And like you said, if you want to occasionally kind of unplug and just go for a session because you enjoy it, you know, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. And for some athletes, it's probably encouraged, something they need to do on the occasional basis. But again, for the… for the meat of our training, we want to achieve those very specific purposes. And the best way to do that is to have those very, very objective, instantaneous feedback from those… from those other metrics.

Elizabeth: And… and while there are limitations to training by RPE, using each session as an opportunity to learn what the intensities feel like and kind of match those metrics to your rate of perceived exertion is a great thing to do as well. You know, if your watch dies during race, that you're going to need to have a good understanding of what your RPE is. If we no longer have those metrics to, you know, help us gauge what our intensity is, having a great understanding of your effort and how that correlates to those metrics is fantastic as well. 

I know that, you know, it's a discussion that I've had with others that some of the elites, they don't wear watches, particularly when they race. And it's not because, you know, they're not interested in those metrics, it's just that they have been training for so long and have such a great awareness of their bodies and what those intensities feel like, that they aren't necessarily relying on that feedback from technology at that point anymore. They have a great understanding of what their effort is at those intensities.

Andrew: Yeah. And I'm glad you said that part about watches freaking out, because, you know, we can become so reliant on our technology and our data. And… and on race day, you just don't know what's going to happen. You need to be prepared for everything. And so, you need to know, you know, what does… what do different efforts feel like for you? And… and my first half Ironman is exactly what that took me back to. My first half Ironman was 70.3 New Zealand. I've talked about on the podcast before, so I won't go into the depth about… about that. But when I got on the run course, I was a few miles in, I don't know what my watch started doing. Obviously, there's thousands of athletes on course wearing our Garmins and Polars and whatever they've got. And… and for the most part, it always works fine. I've never had my watch malfunction on race day before. And I'm on the run course and every literally 10 to 12 seconds, my watch started clicking off another mile, beeping that I completed a mile.

Elizabeth: World record pace.

Andrew: Yeah, I was flying. And just like…

Elizabeth: Smashing records.

Andrew: It worked flawlessly on the bike, it worked flawlessly on… on the swim and… but on the run, for some reason. And later on, on the map when you… I looked at the map, it thought… you know, it showed on the little multi-sport mode on the Garmin Connect, it showed the little swim course, it showed the bike course out in back. And on the run, it had on the coast of New Zealand, hundreds of miles away, having just run the first couple miles of the race. And so for whatever reason, you know, the satellite malfunctioned. 

So, what I did in the moment, my goal on that race, I wasn't a TriDot athlete yet, I had no idea what to expect, I was just hoping for under 6 hours. And so, I knew, “Okay, that's the goal.” And so, I let… I let it stay that way until the 4 and a half-hour mark. And then I saved it at 4 and a half hours. I exited out of that mode and just without even letting my Garmin try to find the satellite again, I just started a stopwatch. And I knew, “Okay, if I finished the rest of this run in under an hour and a half, I'll have completed my goal.” And so, that's… I kind of just went manual from there. I just had a stopwatch going. I didn't know what pace I was running at. I didn't know what heart rate I was running at. I didn't… I didn't know anything.

And then… and on top of that, you're in New Zealand, which everything's measured in kilometers. And so, I couldn't even manually tell how fast I was completing each mile. And you're… you're dehydrated, you're delirious, you're… you're on a course marking…

Elizabeth: You weren’t doing that math in your head at that point?

Andrew: I was trying to, I was trying to but… but you know, you see a sign that says 21K and you're like, “Oh, good lord, what’s 21K?” and you start doing math. And by the time you figured out that math, you're at a new sign…

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Andrew: … saying 24K and… and you… yeah. So, it was it was interesting to say the least. But… but that's a great point that if you, in your training, have figured out, “What… what does zone 2 feel like? What does race pace feel like? What does… what does pushing it too hard feel like?” that can really save you when technology fails, because it certainly does. 

John: And it will. It's one of those things in… in racing. It's not if, it's when. And I will say if you saw a 24K in a half Ironman, you were especially delirious or you just went too far.

Andrew: I'm sure all of our metric listeners are… are shaking their head to the silly American who's claiming there's a 24K sign on a half Ironman course. Yeah, yeah, I don't… the metric system is better. Can I say that? Can I say that on the pod… on this podcast? I don't know why we insist on using the Imperial system when the metric system is clearly superior. Moving on, though. So, when we get to the pool for a swim, it seems like the only option really is just to train by pace. You know, but unlike the bike and run, we can't even really see what our pace is, until after we finish an interval and look at our watch. What advice do y’all have on getting our pacing right on a swim set. 

Elizabeth: So, really, very simply, practice. This is going to come, it will take some time, but it will come. I know for me, as I was getting started, I… I had the same question. And I'm like, “Well, how am I supposed to know? I mean, you aren't going to look at your watch in the middle of the lane and try to figure out if you're on or not.” At this point though in my swim sets, I can tell you before I get to the wall, did I hit the pace I was supposed to or not. The more an athlete continues to practice, you know, you're going to have an understanding kind of… kind of as we're talking about with the perceived rate of exertion, you're going to know what those intensities start to feel like in the water as well. 

Andrew: Yeah. I know for me, when I came on, that that was… that the swim was the most foreign to me. You know, you start doing those structured workouts, you know, and you're trying to learn how to do the structure workouts and you're learning… you're already learning how to do pool swim drills that are new to you. And so, learning how to get those paces does take some time. But… but I noticed for me, a lot of the… the sets TriDot prescribed, you know, where it has you… those building sets, you know, where in the set… in the 50 yards, 100 yards, 100 meters itself, you're slowly increasing your speed, because it's telling you to build. Or in those intervals where you're doing 100 repeats, and it's… it's telling you to do them descending, right? So, you learn that that means that, every 100, you're trying to do it a little bit faster than the one before. Those sets where, okay, swim a 50 and swim the first little bit easy and then swing the last… last little bit hard. 

Like, all of those speed change type sets, I noticed for me when I started really paying attention to doing those correctly, that's when that really came honestly faster than I thought it would. Because I thought it was going to take a while for me to really learn that in the pool, but paying attention to those type of sets and trying to execute… execute them correctly really showed me, “This is what zone 2 feels like. This is what smooth feels like. This is what threshold feels like.” And it came faster than I thought.

John: And it’s one of those things where, as soon as you learn a particular pace, you're going to do your assessments and your paces get faster. But really, what we're doing (and this is where we're RPE is a great actual even acronym for this) is perceived exertion or perceived effort, where, as you're getting faster, especially on the swim, most of those gains are going to come from improved form. So, the effort is going to remain the same.

Andrew: Threshold still feels the same.

John: Right.

Andrew: It's just a different pace.

John: You’re going faster because you're more fit, you're stronger and you have better form. But the effort level, the… the input is the same. What's increasing is the output. Just like faster run paces, higher wattage is on the bike, you're going to have a faster pace on swim, so is learning, “What does… what does smooth feel like? What does threshold feel like? What does all-out feel like?” And regardless of kind of where your pace is as or where you're at in that spectrum of experience and… and speed, as you get faster really, as we've said, the… the feel, the effort, the exertion doesn't really change. But really, the only thing that changes is the time on the clock.

Andrew: So, this might be a niche problem for the athletes out there that are lucky enough to have a 50-meter pool. But sometimes we come across a 25 meter or 75-meter interval. If folks are in a 50-meter pool, how should they handle the… these intervals? Because I mean, the options on the surface seem to be either swim too far, swim too short, or stop in the middle of the pool. Elizabeth, how should we handle that kind of a situation? 

Elizabeth: Yeah, great question here. I would say that if they are lucky enough to be swimming in a 50… 50-meter pool, excuse me, we'll go ahead and just allow them to extend their interval a little bit more and do a little extra. Or, you know, if… if they're working with a coach, I do have one of my athletes that does have a fantastic swim facility that they're able to access, the… their coach might just be nice enough to make those adjustments for them. So, they don't have to worry about that themselves. 

Andrew: Ah, the advantages of having… having the coach platform. There's… there's a ton. That's one of them for sure. So, talking about this though, because then on the other side, there's some weirdos out there (for lack of a better word) that train in unique pools. I've seen people ask about, “Oh, my pool’s, 33 yards,” or some people train in, you know, their community pool that their neighborhood has. And there's… unless they measure it, you don't even know what it is because it's just a weirdly shaped pool. Or sometimes we're on vacation and we're at a hotel pool, that it's got some length to it, but we don't know what it is. What… what do we do if we maybe have an unconventional pool situation? 

Elizabeth: Well, as a former math teacher, I'd say that they have some calculations to do. So, if they can find what the length of that pool is. You know, TriDot provides a pace per 100. So, it's a little bit of math, but they can… they can do some calculations and figure out what their smooth threshold and fast paces would be for whatever length of the pool they're swimming in. 

John: And that's another time when that RPE is going to come into… come into play. Because again, it doesn't… it doesn't so much matter what your pace is, it matters what your effort level is. So, if you know what it is, you know, you hold a certain amount of time. It's a 2-minute interval, so hold that effort level for… for 2 minutes. The distance is… is largely irrelevant. We're really doing, as we've said many times, it's time at intensity. We just happen to be limited by these distances, nice round numbers.

Andrew: Yeah. And if you're in a… and if you're in a 33-yard pool, I mean 33 yards to 25 yards is such a miniscule difference. I mean, sure, there's going to be a couple seconds added on. But to your point, if you're holding the effort, you know for just a few seconds longer or shorter, you're still fulfilling the purpose of the workout. 

John: Exactly. 

Elizabeth: And I think athletes are really going to appreciate John's answer more than mine with getting their pen and paper out and doing all the calculations for their paces. So, they’re like, “Oh, thank goodness, he had a different response. to do that.”

Andrew: That's so reflective of your personalities though. Elizabeth is just so spot on and intentional and…

Elizabeth: But I would. I’d be like getting out the pen and paper.

Andrew: … John is just like, “Yeah, come close to the best you can. Put in the work.” So, sometimes, we get the chance to take our swim workout out to the open water. On these occasions, should we still try to follow our prescribed workout, or should we just kind of throw it to the side and take the chance to swim at race pace and enjoy the open water?

Elizabeth: This is going to be somewhat dependent on the athlete, based on how comfortable they are in open water and… and how long they have before their next open water event. So, if the training time allows for it, I would certainly encourage athletes to do the prescribed pool sessions in addition to some open water opportunities, the pool is going to be where you're going to get the best swim training. So, the pool’s where an athlete can truly focus on their technique and on the pacing to improve their speed in the water. But practicing in open water is important because they're able to practice race execution skills such as sighting and drafting. So, it doesn't necessarily need to even be race pace when you're in open water either. You might want to work on your entry into the water and mimic your event start. You might want to practice drafting off of other swimmers or… or maybe just even swimming in proximity to other athletes too.

Andrew: That's great, Elizabeth, thanks. I will say this, if you're an athlete out there and you have the chance to swim in open water, make sure you throw that up on Strava because I think… I don't always click on people's posts on Strava, you know, usually just kind of give the kudos and move on and see the… the basic information of what they did. But if I see somebody swim outside, I almost always click on the map because I want to see where in the world they are. Because you're usually traveling somewhere or usually, you know… you know, somewhere unique. And it's really cool to see where my friends are getting the opportunity to swim somewhere in the world. So, just… just for Andrew Hartley's a stalking interest, make sure you throw… become friends with me on Strava and throw your… your open-water swims up on… on there so I can be jealous of where you're at and what you're doing. 

So, a couple more questions, guys. We're just about through this. We've talked about TrainX on the podcast before, so I don't want to dive too deep into what TrainX is, and our athletes should know. But in general, the better we are executing our workouts by following the knowledge we've gained here today, the better we're doing the right training right, the better our TrainX scores will be. But there are some sessions in TriDot that inherently just will not result in a good TrainX score. John, what are these sessions and why should we totally ignore TrainX for them? 

John: So, just to take a step back and kind of reiterate what you said, that TrainX score is there to provide just objective feedback as to how well the intent of a session was completed. And… and that's going to vary based on the metrics that the athlete has availability to. So, those objective, instantaneous metrics like pace and power, they are naturally going to have a higher score than… than heart rate or RPE, simply because the athlete is going to spend more time in those… in those zones.

Andrew: You just have more data available.

John: Right. And I would say it's even better data, because again, it's its objective, its instantaneous. So, those… those TrainX scores, just provide feedback as to how well the intent of a session was executed. So, there are a couple, as you mentioned, that because of that, become less relevant. So, for one, your assessments are not going to have particularly relevant TrainX scores. Because, again, that TrainX score is how well the session was prescribed as… or executed as prescribed. But there's not really a prescription for your assessments. Your assessments are an all-out effort. So, it's hard to say what that's going to be, and it's going to be a little bit different for… for everyone based on… on what their… what their fitness level is, what their execution…

Andrew: Yeah.

John: … of that assessment is. So, for those assessments, just go out produce your… your highest best effort results, and knock it out and bump the dot and move on. Your TrainX score is not going to provide great feedback for that. Your increased swim, bike, rundot is going to be the great feedback for… for your assessment. Any session that has time off the bike, again, is really going to be impossible to score. So, like the big gear work that I mentioned where you're spending…

Andrew: Yeah.

John: … time on the bike, you hop off, you do some squats, you hop back on the bike, you know, we don't have metrics for…

Andrew: That time off the bike, yeah.

John: … for wattage and then squats.

Andrew: And I even found, for me, when I do that, I do it while I'm on Zwift, and my Zwift keeps… the timer keeps going. It doesn't pause. So, at the end, yeah, I don't know if that's… I'm just doing… I've just put out work incorrectly or what. But I'm sure it's the way I've programmed that workout. But… but… so for me, I end up with like, all this time at 0 watts.

John: Right.

Andrew: And I have just an awful TrainX score when I do that.

John: Yeah, because you are. You're generating 0 watts, you're doing squats…

Andrew: Yeah.

John: … different, different things. And then you have like some of the brick runs where you're… you're on the bike, and then you go for a run, you hop back on the bike, you go run. Again, you're doing 2 different sports, 2 different disciplines. It's a fantastic training session, but it's… it's not practical for... for scoring. And then your race rehearsals as well. So, what we're trying to do here is duplicate race conditions, race day, as best we can. And you'll have your prescribed race day pacing, and that's really what you want to do is dial in your race day strategy based on that RaceX guide. And that's going to vary based on your terrain. So, if you're on flats, hills, all that's going to vary. And really, the intent there is to… to duplicate race day as best you can, not so much worry about the prescribed pacing based on that session.

 

Andrew: Got it, I got it. So, let's kind of land the plane with this today because I think it's important for people to hear this, you know, from… from top level coaches, experienced coaches, multiple Ironman finishers. In your own training, do you guys ever just kind of take a day and leave the watch at home, leave the gadgets at home, maybe even go out with somebody that go at different paces than you? And do you ever just go enjoy a run or ride or a swim and not even worry about the training impact or implications of the workout? 

Elizabeth: Yep. In fact, I did this recently in Galveston. Now granted, on that day, it was after my prescribed session was done. I had ridden my bike some additional miles just because it was a beautiful day outside and I wanted to spend some more time outside. But… but I've done this on… on occasion, you know, in replacement of the prescribed training session as well. Triathlon is fun, and being able to share this sport with others is… is a great joy as well. I love the training, I love the structure that it provides, but I also love what I'm able to do because of my training. So, sometimes taking a step back just to go for a run just because is… is a way that I can reflect a little bit on… on what my body is able to do and how much I love the sport.

John: Yeah, I'm in the same boat. I do sometimes enjoy just going out doing a session for the heck of it sometimes. You know, maybe it's running with faster folks like y'all or…

 

Andrew: John and I, when we run with Elizabeth when our whole staff is together, we’ll… we’ll have a prescribed zone 2 run. And Elizabeth is comfortably in zone 2, I am at the bottom of zone 3, and John is…

 

John: Maxed out.

 

Andrew: John… John is inching towards his threshold as the 3 of us run together. 

John: Yeah. And I, as a rule, always track. It’s just kind of habit. I've been doing this for years and years and years, and I start my watch at the beginning of every session and stop it at the end. But as kind of we alluded to throughout this podcast is I tend to be kind of laid back. And if it's a session that I'm not particularly concerned with, I'm cool with that. Or the watch battery dies, I'm cool with that. So, you know, it's all about going out and doing a session, whether that session again, as we've talked about is a very specific session to achieve a very specific training adaptation, or your intent is just to have a good time with friends, go out and achieve the purpose of that session. 

Andrew: Yeah. I know I certainly do this as well. For me, it's usually, you know, sometimes on a on a Saturday, you know, that I have a group of friends that I'll cycle with. And, you know, they're stronger cyclists than… than I am, for the most part. And so, when I do go ride with them in a group, I'm kind of sacrificing the training. But you want to hang out with your friends, you want to get a chance to do that. I referenced earlier in the episode, my cousin who's a trail runner, you know, he… he and I live on opposite sides of the same lake. And so, sometimes, he'll text me that he's going for a trail run on some of the mountain bike trails around the lake and I'll join him from time to time. And it's… it's a really fun way to get outside and kind of do something different and kind of say, “You know what? There's… I know I've got this certain run on… on my training schedule for today. But, you know, hitting the mountain bike trails for an outdoor trail run sounds pretty fun today.” And so, sometimes I'll mix it up with that. 

And I… I don’t know about you guys, I always enjoy it when I see our athletes and our ambassadors, you know, post to the… to the group, “Hey, had the opportunity today to hit the lake with my… my daughter, my son, my so and so. We swam, you know, hey, we're on vacation and got a chance to throw the workout out the window and, you know, run this trail around this volcano in Hawaii.” And people, when they… when they take the chance to do things like that and post about it, it's… it's I think, really good reinforcement that we should all be doing that, right?

John: Yeah. It's consistent training, it's not perfect training; unless you're Elizabeth. 

Narrator: Great set, everyone. Let's cool down. 

Andrew: There are a ton of great triathlon clubs and communities that exist to help us swim, bike, and run with other people. On the podcast, we like to introduce you to some of the amazing groups that make the multi-sport community so great. Today TriDot coach, George Cespedes, is going to tell us about the community he started called TriAnimal Endurance. Now TriAnimals isn't a traditional tri club. So, if you are a TriDot athlete or a part of your local race club, you can still join and engage with the TriAnimal community. Here is George to tell us all about it. 

George: Hi there, my name is George Cepesdes. I am a USAT level 1 certified coach for the past 6 years. This is my 2nd year coaching under the TriDot platform. And I gotta say, I'm super excited to be a part of TriDot and to be affiliated with TriDot and to work with great people that are involved with TriDot. 

But that's not what I'm here to talk to you about today. Today, I want to talk to you about TriAnimals. TriAnimals is a worldwide community of triathletes, runners, cyclists, swimmers. Our main goal is to encourage interaction with other TriAnimals around the world. TriAnimals was originated back in Brooklyn, New York (which is where I'm originally from) in 1987. And we were reborn here in 2012 in Colorado Springs, and we have since grown. We're a worldwide community, as I mentioned earlier. We have members here in the United States, in Mexico, in Canada, Iceland, Australia. And the biggest thing we want to do is we want to help build the community so that different triathletes from all over the world can get together at races and help build the community. Because everything's more fun when you're part of a group.

Whether you race or compete several times a year or you just want to be ready for that one special race, what TriAnimals does is we offer support, encouragement, and knowledge to help you achieve your goals. We at TriAnimals have partnered with local and national companies so that we can provide gear discounts, as well as stuff for nutrition. We also offer a variety of personal trainers, coaches, and mentors that you can find on our website at trianimalendurance.com.

Now, one of the questions I always get is, “How much is th cost to be a TriAnimal?” Well, it doesn't cost anything at all to be a TriAnimal. As I said before, we are a community, so we're not a club. But Ironman and USA triathlon both recognize us as a club. And the reason for that is simple, members of clubs, they get the benefit of being able to enroll at Ironman races before registration opens to the general public. Well, with TriAnimals, you get that as well. 

So, you can be a member of TriAnimals. All you got to do is go on to your Ironman profile, sign up that you're a member of TriAnimals. And then when races open, you'll get an early entry opportunity, same as you would with any other club or team. What we're trying to do is we're trying to build a community of likeminded individuals. And the biggest thing we want to do is we want to encourage people. 

We have current and former professional triathletes that are members of TriAnimals. And we also have people that haven't even done their first triathlon yet and they're looking for that first race. And what we do is we provide a forum for people to talk about triathlon and what they're doing and different races that they're doing. And it's amazing how excited people get about being able to do the same race. 

Early entry to Ironman races, discounted entries for all the without-limits races here in Colorado. TriAnimals also owns the Aquaman Swim Run Series, which is a mid-week race that's held at Cherry Creek Reservoir in Denver. That's on Tuesday nights. TriAnimals offers a community and friendships that go beyond any finish line. So, why struggle alone when you can unleash your inner beast with a team of TriAnimals?

Andrew: Well, that's it for today, folks. I want to thank coaches John Mayfield and Elizabeth James for helping us identify the right training metrics to use for each training session we face as triathletes. Also, a big thanks to George Cespedes from TriAnimal Endurance for telling us about the encouraging community for triathletes he's cultivated. Shout out to TriBike Transport for partnering with us on today's episode. Head to tribiketransport.com to book transport for your bike for your next big race. Enjoying the podcast? Have any questions you want to hear our coach's answer? Head to tridot.com/podcast and click on submit feedback to let us know what you're thinking. We'll do it again soon. Until then, happy training. 

Outro: Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew. For more great tri-content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head to TriDot.com and start your free trial today. TriDot, the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.